Sentience: The Android’s Tale Review
Sentience: The Android’s Tale Review
Pilgrim has done a wonderful job of crafting a highly dynamic story that makes the game more interesting and provides the opportunity to play multiple times with different results
Posted: 01/06/18 | Category: Review | Developer: Pilgrim Adventures | Publisher: GrabTheGames | Platform: Windows

Genre: Indie Sci-Fi Adventure
Release date: June 2, 2017
Platform: Windows

I, Android  

The year is 2127 and mankind is in a period known as “The Human Age.”  It has been 25 years since The Revolution when people rose up against the idea of Artificial Intelligence. As a result, the production and use of androids is now tightly controlled. Identified by the name “J-7,” your android is a mid-range Origin class model designed to do social and agricultural work. As it powers up and comes into “consciousness,” you learn that J-7 has been modified with special programming that makes it a bit more sentient than the average android.

As the player, your first task is to choose your “shell” which is involves selecting from over a dozen avatars in different colors. The game is played from a top down, 3rd-person view and the android is very small on the screen. Apart from color, the details of your “shell” are somewhat irrelevant. You also choose a human name that will be used to address J-7 throughout the game.

Sentience: The Android’s Tale opens with J-7 heading to the planet Akritas to join an agricultural/research facility at Base Alpha. Upon arrival, you are introduced to a cast of characters with responsibilities that include governing, research, agriculture, security, maintenance, medicine and spirituality. Each character has a name, a picture, a description and an attitude towards androids (either positive, negative or neutral). As you encounter each character, his (or her) details are added to your database which can be accessed at any time. By getting to know the residents of Akritas, you begin to understand the backstory and recognize that all is not as it appears. There are hidden agendas and mysterious forces at work on the planet.  These will be revealed, over time.


Getting Acclimated  

Alpha Base is a large facility and the initial challenge is to get to know the lay of the land. The game provides a map which is very useful in the beginning. You navigate around the base, from a top down view, by pointing-and-clicking. The android moves with purpose so you do not spend a lot of time waiting for it to arrive at a new destination. Buildings are entered and exited by clicking on doors.


You will also encounter various creatures throughout the game – some harmless, some deadly, and some that just get in your way.  Details about each creature are added to your database as your knowledge of the local wildlife expands.


In addition to people and creatures, cruising the base reveals quite a few objects of interest. Clicking on an active item triggers a menu to “Examine,” “Operate” or “Take” (depending on the type of item), and “Use Item” (from inventory). Clicking on a person triggers a menu to “Examine," “Converse” or “Offer Item” (from inventory).


One Day at a Time  

Sentience is divided into 14 days – each of which has specific missions to accomplish. Each evening, J-7 recharges and then begins the next day. A typical day has 3 to 5 assignments which usually require finding a specific character and then running an errand or accomplishing a task, as requested. Performing tasks gets a bit tedious at times – checking equipment, gathering specimens, discovering information, accompanying someone on a journey, etc. Each requires a good bit of wandering to find the person or object(s) required to complete the mission. In this regard, it is like having stacked “mini-quests” in a traditional RPG. In the latter part of the game, a subset of the Alpha team (including J-7) is transferred to an outlying Beta Base which results in a new map, additional characters and a new set of missions.

There are no voiceovers in Sentience and only limited music and sound effects. Character dialog is performed by clicking through and selecting from response options. Some characters are incredibly verbose and some feel compelled to pontificate on the ethics of artificial intelligence and the difference between humans and androids. I admit that at times, I got very tired of clicking. However, your responses drive the story in a dramatic way so you need to remain vigilant and choose your words carefully.


Choices Matter  

Pilgrim Adventures is best known for “top down” RPGs. Sentience represents a departure from their norm, as it is more story-based and there is no explicit character development. Instead, your adventure changes based on the decisions you make and the words you speak. While many games claim to have a story driven by player actions, Pilgrim has succeeded in creating a game that truly does change each time you play with a different approach. Despite trying to take a "middle road" with initial conversations (that is, not being too aggressive or too compliant), by the end of Day 4, J-7 had made two enemies and gotten one member of the team killed. Whoops…

There are 20+ characters on Arkritas and J-7 will interact with each of them. Most will have a mission for the android at some point in the game. Your dialog choices, your willingness to help, and your ability to accomplish the task requested will drive the story as it unfolds in future days. For example, if a character is killed early in the game, all scenarios that depended on that character are no longer possible. If the character had lived, he (or she) might have saved another character’s life or changed the course of other events. Without their presence, the story will take a different turn. In the same manner, angering a character may prevent you from enlisting that character's aid in the future. Building positive relationships means that you have potential allies down the road.

There is also activity sequencing to consider each day. Depending on the order in which you accomplish tasks, it is possible to have a day end without completing all missions. Doors that are unlocked when you leave the base on a mission may be locked when you return. So, if you have not explored specific areas before leaving, there is an opportunity cost that may change the future.

Sentience provides enough save slots that you can save your game at the end of each day. This provides you with the ability to “rewind” to a prior day and play again with different choices.

The Bottom Line  

Pilgrim has done a wonderful job of crafting a highly dynamic story in Sentience: The Android’s Tale. This makes the game more interesting and provides the opportunity to play multiple times with different results. Game mechanics are very simple and there is a wealth of useful information at the player’s fingertips (character profiles, creature profiles, mission log and maps) that makes it easy to jump in and get started. Throw in a save system with lots of slots and you have a game that is very “user friendly.” 

Having played the game through, I would describe it as “unique and interesting” but not necessarily “fun.” There is a huge amount of written dialog to read and a lot of trudging to accomplish all the missions. In some ways, Sentience might be better described as an interactive novel rather than an adventure game.

Despite the reduced fun factor (for me), I still found myself completely engaged in the story and weighing all my decisions carefully. It is a complicated story with twists and turns that kept me interested and I am tempted to play through several more times just to watch the storyline change. At the very end, there is a decision point that drives a whole range of alternate endings. The smart gamer will save his/her game before making this final decision to make it easy to “rewind” and see the different endings with minimum replay.


Engaging game world with a lot of creative detail in terms of backstory, characters and environment
+ Story is directly impacted by your choices in a way that becomes clear very quickly. You do not have to wait to the end to see how your decisions changed the final outcome.
+ Well thought-out interface that provides the player with everything needed to become immediately involved in the story
Lots of reading and trudging reduce the “fun” factor for this game


System Requirements

MINIMUM Windows:
OS: Windows 7/8/8.1/10
Processor: Intel Core2 Duo or better

DirectX: Version 9.0
Storage: 600 MB available space
Specials from Digital Download
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